Essay Sample Discussing Han Fei Tzu Basic Writing on Punishment

Published: 2017-10-05
Essay Sample Discussing Han Fei Tzu Basic Writing on Punishment
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Philosophy Punishment Society
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1803 words
16 min read


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Over the years, different factions have elicited divergent views regarding societal modality. Without a doubt, it is extremely necessary for a community to implement a feasible mechanism to instill discipline among its inhabitants. From one school of thought, scholars and philosophers believe that it is prudent to punish and implement salient bylaws to control the society. For instance, Han Fei Tzu through his basic teachings opines that punishing people who violate the enforced law deters other from contravening the same precepts. Contrary, the other school of thought including the Confucius believes that love and duty would work well in controlling a society. While both scholarly views back their standpoints with facts, punishment and law serves as a better deterrent to wrongdoers. Through this paper, I intend to convince the Emperor that enforcing laws and punishing individual is a far better principle compared to love and duty as far as societal discipline is concerned.

Since time immemorial, punishment has been part of most communities, as a way to regulate society. Throughout time, different jurisdictions have enforced salient principles and measures seeking to safeguard their societies. With time, some countries have enforced grave punishments such as the death penalty seeking to streamline their subjects. To date, all most all nations punish their people in graded levels in line with the committed offence. In seeking to avert savage like livelihoods, governments legislate and enforce feasible bylaws to control their people. With a rising population, any state that leads its subjects without enforcing statutes only remedies disaster. Therefore, every society has to implement bylaws in line with its needs and dynamics while punishing all those who violate the said statutes.

Punishment exists in three major forms, which include parental or domestic punishment, judicial punishment and school punishment. Every parent or guardian has a duty of care to discipline his or her child in the manner he or she deems fit. Similarly, countries indoctrinate a judicial system that seeks to maintain law and order within the nation’s borders. Every person who contravenes the law has to face the full wrath of the judicial system. The school setting also implements feasible bylaws through close deliberations between the parents, management, and other concern stakeholders. It is prudent to note that in most schools, teachers no longer have the power to punish students in line with the parents’ wishes. However, the fruits of such actions remain evident, as young adults no longer respect their parents and teachers. Although love and duty has received wide admiration from young parents, the principle has dire ramifications. A society that depends on love and duty has suffered huge losses due to behavioral extremisms. Han Fei Tzu was a great and influential political philosopher that believed in the power of punishment and law as a way of moderating extreme activities in society. The philosopher believed that a government and society that integrates punishment would always achieve maximum cohesion and developmental success as below.

Han believed that love and duty increase society’s vulnerability to manipulation by other people, paving the way forchaos and disorder. Han reiterated, “It is dangerous for a ruler to trust others. Others can manipulate he who trusts others.” Han bases his argument on the fact that people in society are different in areas such as among others character, behavior, reasoning and religious beliefs. Such differences create non-uniformity in ways in which people react to certain events and issues that require critical attention. Descent and reasonable persons in society would react in a constructive manner while others would act in inhuman forms. Such people would choose not to follow the law, granting the integration of punishment. In essence, punishment would in this sense act as a form of deterrence, preventing the occurrence of a similar act of crime. Punishing a person in society would act as a warning to other people who would, choose not to repeat such as mistake. Ultimately, such a form of punishment would regulate society in a manner that makes it not only orderly but also productive. Some of the judicial forms of punishment would include prisons, which ultimately achieve the highest forms of deterrence.

Han also believes in the integration of force and other forms of punishment in society for a smooth flow of operations. He states, “To try to govern the people of a chaotic age with benevolence and lenient measures is like to drive wild horses without reins and whips.” Han’s arguments are not only right in the utilitarian point of view but also retributivist. Han goes ahead to assert that a leader rules a community of people, not relying on their will to do and act well. Such a leader’s responsibility is to ensure that his or her subjects follow the law. Han believes that a state or society that lacks laws and punishments that prevent similar occurrences can hardly have ten persons acting right and doing good. A leader should seek to set aside the few persons who do well while considering the majority of people who do and act wrongly. Such a leader should seek to devote his or her energy to ensuring the abidance of the law in degrees that render the state or community of people orderly. Han uses an example of a round wood that in a thousand generations would be no cartwheel. The idea behind this statement lies in the fact that such wood would require the use of tools that ensure the wood remains a circle.

Over the years, the society has tried to indoctrinate different correctional models seeking to instill discipline while trying to show compassion. In the recent past, jurisdictions have been implementing lenient legislative policies that intend to depict care and love while still enforcing discipline. For instance, the American Congress has enforced numerous bylaws that deviate from the norm. The modern society dictates that an individual should enjoy numerous freedoms and the enacted laws ought to preserve that right. However, the current wave of chaos and unparallel disruptions necessitate crucial rethinking. To date, countries around the world are crying foul to uncontrollable individuals who keep on distorting global peace. In such an instance, it would be illogical to try to control such a population using love and duty.

Though his basic teachings, Han almost foretold the detriment allied to subjecting wrongdoers to lenient punishments. Undoubtedly, punishment should not as harsh as to contravene salient freedoms entrenched in a country’s Constitution. However, punishment should act as a deterrent to ensure that the wrongdoer as well as his or her peers refrains from engaging in such vicious actions. In the same breath, punishment should act as a form of retribution seeking to ensure that a society remains sane at all times. From a religious standpoint, most faithful believe in the need to correct children by instilling discipline from the tender years.

Lastly, Han believes that a country’s strength lies in the law conformers’ strength to instill the abidance of the law. In an excerpt, the theorist asserts, “No country is permanently strong. Nor is any country permanently weak.” Han’s argument lies in the fact that people in society are wicked and cruel. Other people are so cruel that their condition can bring chaos and disorder to the whole society or state. Han integrates the need for regulations that work to expel private crookedness in society. Such a move would work to uphold the public law, which in turn makes the people safe and the whole country in order. Ultimately, a leader would find his or her army firm and strong, which makes a society not only productive but also successful.

Han also hints that governing a state or society by or through law means being able to praise right while blaming wrong deeds and actions. However, leaders should always take caution not to act in a biased manner in their quest of integrating law and punishment. Family and friends should not, in any way interfere with the process of executing law and service to society. Punishment, in this case, helps in rehabilitating the individuals who commit crimes. The retributivist point of view believes that a normal human being can make rather sensible and rational decisions about normal day-to-day activities. Thus, a normal person who consciously chooses to break and upset the balance of a community and country as a whole should receive relative forms of punishment. An insane person should go scot-free. All the above views of law and punishment are in line with the Confucian humanistic ethics.


The above description of Han’s views about law and punishment place him at a very significant position to offer critical directions regarding power. Han’s beliefs are not only real and factual but also apply to the current generation. In the modernized society, it is increasingly important for leaders, parents, and organizational heads to instill discipline in their subjects seeking to avert detrimental situations. As Han notes, a society cannot operate without a subtle corrective mechanisms that eradicates unwarranted behavior. In most instances, love and duty end up creating confusion, as the two do not stipulate what a person ought to do. People living without law would become savages, as everyone would do as they please. Although Confucius advocated for love and duty, the philosopher did not intend to close other alternatives. It would be prudent for a society to integrate love and duty as well as punishment and law in an all-rounded corrective mechanism. Through such a formation, wrongdoers would always receive an explanation detailing the reason they receive the punishment. In essence, wrong doers would realize that the punishment is a show of love and concern seeking to create a stable society that eradicates unwarranted tendencies.

Works Cited

"Chinese Cultural Studies: Han Fei: Selections from The Writings of Han Fei (c. 230 BCE)." Chinese Cultural Studies: Han Fei: Selections from The Writings of Han Fei (c. 230 BCE). Accessed September 05, 2016.

"Han Fei Tzu." Quotes / Han Feizi / Legalism. Accessed September 05, 2016.

"Han Fei-tzu (d. 233 BCE): Legalist Views on Good Government." Han Fei-tzu: Legalist Views on Good Government. Accessed September 05, 2016.

"What Are Some Positives/advantages of Corporal Punishment? Divide Corporal Punishment May into Three Main Types: Parental or Domestic Corporal. | ENotes." Accessed September 05, 2016.

“Punishment - Theories of Punishment.” JRank. Accessed September 05, 2016.

Burton Watson. 2003. Han Feizi: basic writings. New York: Columbia University Press.

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